This bird is one of the smaller clapper rail subspecies. It is a water bird with long legs and a short tail. Its bill is long, slender, and curved downward slightly. Anteriorly, coloration is a mottled brown on a gray background. Its flanks and underside are dark gray with narrow vertical white stripes that produce a barred effect. The Yuma is slightly lighter in color and thinner in body shape than other rails. They are more often heard than seen since abrupt noise causes the birds to cry out in unison. They are noisiest at night.
The Yuma Clapper Rail inhabits freshwater marshlands under 1,372 m (4,500 ft) elevation. It is associated with dense riparian and marsh vegetation. It requires a wet substrate, such as a mudflat, sandbar, or slough bottom that supports cattail and bulrush stands of moderate to high density adjacent to shorelines.
The Yuma clapper rail occurs along the lower Colorado River, from Lake Mead to Mexico. In Nevada, it is specifically located in the Muddy River, Virgin River and the Las Vegas Wash.
The Yuma clapper rail is monogamous and both parents tend the nest. The nest is elevated on a firm bank or under a small bush. They can have 2 broods per year, each having 5-12 buff or olive-buff eggs with brown markings.
The rail’s diet consists of crayfish and other crustaceans as well as: worms, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, small fish, and aquatic insects.
These birds are threatened because of habitat destruction due to stream channelization and elimination of marsh habitat.
Tacha, C. T. and Braun C. E. 1994. Migratory Shore and Upland Game Bird Management in North America. International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Washington, D. C. pg. 223
Tomlinson, C. R. 2002. Nevada Division of Wildlife, Southern Region. Las Vegas, NV